Chase Nalls Automotive Engineer & Crash Expert

Chase Nalls, Automotive Engineer & Crash Expert

Chase Nalls is an automotive engineer specializing in the design and performance of airbag and restraint systems. He applies his expertise to forensic casework involving crash reconstruction and vehicle crashworthiness disputes pertaining to occupant safety systems.

During his undergraduate studies, Chase worked as a Safety Systems Intern at Takata Protection Systems. He continued to work with Takata as a consulting engineer on design and production projects during his graduate program, gaining valuable experience in the design and testing of airbags, seatbelts, and harness restraint systems for the military. Chase would later move to Fiat Chrysler (FCA/Stellantis), where he worked as a senior design and release engineer on Ram and Jeep vehicles. In this capacity, he was responsible for airbag design and performance from initial concept through completion, which included extensive crash testing analysis in computer simulated environments as well as real-world sled and vehicle crash testing.

Chase is well versed in the standards and regulations that apply to occupant safety systems, and in the testing required for federal regulatory compliance, NHTSA’s NCAP 5-Star Safety Ratings, and IIHS Safety Ratings. His experience at FCA/Stellantis also included benchmarking competitive vehicle safety equipment, granting him valuable insight about state-of-the-art technologies available in the market that prevent and reduce injuries when crashes occur.

Chase earned both his Master and Bachelor of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University, where he was also Chassis Lead of their Formula SAE race team. Beyond his engineering experience, Chase is also an experienced mechanic and fabricator.

Provide technical investigations, crashworthiness and engineering, and accident reconstruction analysis.

Motor Vehicle Design, Development and Testing: from requirements, concept through validation field-testing of complete vehicles, including manufacturing. Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) for products & process, DVP&R development, as well as writing trouble shooting and service procedures. Testing pre-production and production vehicles in extreme environments at or above rated capabilities. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) and other regulatory requirement compliance.

Motor Vehicle System Design, Development and Testing: restraint systems; 2, 3, 4, 5 point seat belt/harness; driver airbags (DAB); passenger airbags (PAB); knee airbags; seat belts; side airbag inflatable curtain (SABIC); side airbag (SAB); passenger airbag chute; passenger airbag deployment door; airbag inflators; steering wheels; instrument panels; harness pull strength; sled testing; vehicle crash performance; crash simulation; flammability; out of position, low risk deployment, airbag deployment with infant and convertible car seats; heat soak.

Motor Vehicle Failures: airbag; seat belt; steering; brakes; suspension; structural; corrosion; fatigue durability; seat retention; steering column; axle; trailer hitches; wheel and bearing; tires, frontal impact injury; airbag integrity; passenger airbag deployment door, buckle operation.

Motor Vehicle Repair: diagnosis and/or repair of primary and supplemental restraint systems, suspension and steering systems, engine, exhaust system, brake systems, interior and exterior lighting, electrical, interior/exterior components and systems, aftermarket components, vehicle modifications, interaction of dealers and manufacturers, and safety recall repairs. Proper use of service repair tools and equipment, repair procedures and shop operations.

Manufacturing Process and Equipment: injection molding; pneumatic and DC powered tools, hand tools, torque verification means and methods, stamping, adhesives, welding (TIG/MIG), machining, computer numerical control, mill, lathe, water jet, additive, mistake and error proofing, quality control, inspection camera, poka-yoke, operator protection means and methods, and operator ergonomics.

Vehicle Accident Reconstruction: inspection of damaged vehicle and components. Site inspection. Review of police report, witness statements, scene photos and other documents. Computational recreation of the accident using facts and scientifically accepted methodology to determine how the accident occurred, including elements within the accident. All to determine cause(s) of the accident, including the resulting severity.

Professional Experience

Robson Forensic, Inc.

Associate

2023 to present

Provide technical investigations, analysis, reports, and testimony toward the resolution of commercial and personal injury litigation involving vehicle collisions, vehicle crashworthiness and engineering issues, mechanical defects and malfunctions, and vehicle repair issues for passenger cars, light trucks, SUVs, and medium trucks.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Senior Design and Release Engineer - Restraints

2019 to 2023
  • Designed airbag systems from concept to launch for new vehicle programs while meeting program milestones.
  • Responsible for the 2025 Ram 1500 passenger airbag design and performance from concept through pre-production vehicle builds.
  • Responsible for the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee passenger airbag design and performance from concept through vehicle production launch.
  • Worked with vehicle safety engineering group to reach performance targets for vehicle level crash systems, both driver and passenger.
  • Reviewed and analyzed results from simulation, sled testing and full vehicle crash testing for crash safety performance.
  • Resolved issues that arose on current production programs using reactive problem-solving strategies.
  • Responsible for creation of new passenger airbag bracket design to overcome quality issues; improvements led to consistent fitment to mounting points and resolved build issue.
  • Reviewed and design released CAD models and technical drawings for completeness and accuracy for mass production.

InDepth Engineering (contract position at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

Design and Release Engineer – Restraints

2017 to 2019
  • Validation testing for airbag system rear facing infant seat performance to meet or exceed FMVSS 208 requirements.
  • Validation testing for airbag system low risk deployment testing for out of position performance (OOP) to meet or exceed FMVSS 208 requirements.
  • Develop design verification plan and report (DVP&R) for components and reviewed test results to validate for mass production.
  • Wrote compliance reports to certify achievement of federal requirements of airbag systems.
  • Responsible for the creation of the test method for worse-case market condition correlation and yearly coordination of solar load testing for all restraints commodities.
  • Led development of buzz shake and rattle testing specification for driver airbags, including test setup, inputs, and acceptance criteria.
  • Analyzed competitor’s products and completed a benchmark study of driver and passenger airbags.
  • Support vehicle assembly plant and supplier instrument panel assembly plant with work instructions for assembly and on-site support through the development and launch milestones.
  • Supported design and development of new passenger airbag housings for reduced weight and packaging size while achieving safety performance targets.

Staffing Solutions Southeast (contract position at Takata Protection Systems)

Design and Product Engineer

2016 to 2017
  • Developed seatbelt and harness restraint systems to achieve functional requirements and specifications.
  • Collaborated with production operations with creation and evaluation of new manufacturing processes and review of current manufacturing processes.
  • Implement process improvements to increase the quality and reliability of the products.

Takata Protections Systems

Safety Systems Intern

2014 to 2016
  • Performed static airbag deployment testing to review trajectory and performance.
  • Tested seatbelt components and wrote detailed test reports and failure analysis.
  • Created harness and seat belt CAD models and technical drawings.

Education

M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Florida Atlantic University, 2017
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Florida Atlantic University, graduated cum laude, 2016

Continuing Education

  • Introductory Course on Human Factors and the Response Software, Driver Research Institute, 2024
  • Traffic Crash Reconstruction 2, Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, 2024
  • Traffic Crash Reconstruction 1, Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, 2024
  • Traffic Crash Investigation 2, Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, 2023
  • Traffic Crash Investigation 1, Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, 2023
  • Vehicle Crash Reconstruction: Principles and Technology, SAE International, 2023
  • Shainin Red X Reactive Problem Solving, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 2019
  • Test to Failure for Mechanical Systems, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 2018
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 2017
  • Design Verification Plan and Report (DVP&R), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 2017

Professional Memberships

Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 2023-present
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), 2023-present

Invited Lectures/Presentations

Forensic Crash Course Product Liability - National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration - Office of Defects Investigation, September 2023

Additional Experience

Florida Atlantic University Formula SAE racing team

  • Member of Formula SAE race team, assisting in the design, construction, and race support of vehicle, 2013-2016.
  • Leader of the Chassis design team; created design of the tube frame chassis and the frame’s manufacturing jig system.

v. 06/6/24

Related Resources

See All of Chase's Published Content

Introduction to Vehicle Restraint Systems

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In this article, the automotive engineers at Robson Forensic provide an introduction to vehicle restraint systems and how forensic experts inspect these systems as part of an investigation. Vehicle…

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The data readout from an automotive Event Data Recorder (EDR) or vehicle "black box" is often a topic of curiosity. This data was designed by engineers to be analyzed by engineers toward the purpose…